In view of the recent surge of COVID-19 cases, the Chief Justice of Madras High Court on Thursday (June 10) directed that the hearing of cases in the Principal Seat of Madras High Court and in the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court will only be through Virtual mode.
All Advocates/parties-in-person have been directed to appear only through Video Conferencing, with effect from Monday (June 14) until further orders.
However, the physical presence of the Law officers of the State and Central Government and the Standing Counsel for Public Sector Undertakings etc., if required by the Hon'ble Court, is permitted subject to the strict adherence of the COVID-19 safety protocols.
Entry of all other Advocates, Advocate Clerks, litigants, and parties-in-person inside the High Court premises has been prohibited.
Further, all the Law Chambers and Bar Association Libraries will remain closed and the advocates have been given the liberty to get their case papers and other necessary things from their respective chambers, between 12.00 p.m and 4.00 p.m. on Saturday (June 12, 2021).
On June 12, 2021, extensive sanitization of the entire premises, including Lawyers' Chambers, will be conducted.
Lastly, it has been notified that the filing of case papers, copy applications, returning/re-presenting the case papers, and receiving the order copies in the Principal Seat at Madras will be in physical mode through the respective counters provided inside the South Gate (Gate No.7), subject to strict adherence of COVID-19 Protocols or by e-mail.
SOP related to Subordinate Courts
The following directions have been issued for restricted functioning of Subordinate Courts in the State of Tamil Nadu and Union Territory of Puducherry w.e.f. June 14, 2021, until the further orders:
- Only both sides ready matters be taken as far as possible through Video Conferencing.
- The filing process shall be through the dropbox method, as was done earlier.
- Only urgent cases be taken up, restricting to a manageable number of cases in a day, on time slot.
- The urgency of the matter to be taken up, has to be decided by the concerned Presiding officer of the Court.
- Exparte orders should be avoided unless absolutely necessary and only upon giving due reasons thereof.
- If necessary, witnesses can be examined through Video Conferencing, by following the rules in this regard.
- Entry of Advocates and litigants into the Court Complexes to be restricted.
- Bar Associations and canteens shall remain closed until further orders.
- However, to sanitize and to provide access to papers for the Lawyers, the Bar Associations may be opened for four hours on Saturday.
- The Principal District Judges/Principal Judge/District Judges of the District concerned and the Chief Judge, UT of Puducherry can make all arrangements for the smooth functioning of Courts, with minimum level staff not exceeding 30%, depending on the situation prevailing in their respective districts and shall ensure better functioning of courts without compromising on the Covid protocol.
In related news, in view of the continuing threat of the COVID- 19 pandemic, the Gujarat & Orissa High Courts had decided that they will function through video-conferencing mode from Monday (June 7).
However, the Gujarat High Court had issued directions with respect to resumption of physical functioning of all Subordinate Courts of Gujarat w.e.f. June 7.